Monday, March 22, 2010

Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project

I would like to introduce you to Karen who has a blog called Evil Mommy, don't judge her by the name. She is far from evil. The two of us are participating in an interesting forum that includes 60 different voices in adoption. Hosted by Open Adoption Bloggers, it is aimed at sharing all the opinions out there regarding open adoption. (Karen also interviewed me and you can click on her link to read that.)

Karen is one interesting woman! She is the adoptive mother of School Girl, she is passionate about knitting, she has a great love of music that is also quite versatile and she has a very intriguing political voice. She is a die hard fan of monster movies (with a soft spot for zombies!) and she is a self professed Marine with Tourettes, her words not mine. (The previous fact can also be applied to me, but I have to seriously curb it when I am volunteering with the kids ;-o ). Her voice makes you think, she very honest about her convictions and she is quite humorous. The first post of hers that I read made me laugh out loud and I told her that. Her Mommy's Rules of Conduct are fantastic! Rule #3 had me giggling as well, Way To Go Karen! I have enjoyed getting to know her and her personality through her words. This is my interview with her, and I encourage you to read her I said her voice is thought provoking. Did I mention that she has an interesting political view?

1. Your blog name story was interesting. I have heard before that some adoptive parents do feel guilty for taking someone else's child and you described how you felt about it very well. Do you feel differently now than you did when you first started your blog? Do you still feel like "Evil Mommy", or has that perspective changed?

Thanks to time and therapy (smile), I don't feel that way all the time. Those days still happen, but they're not quite as often.

2. You mentioned birthdays are hard for you. Do you think that is because when that time of year comes near you are reminded of the hardships you endured trying to adopt, the anxiety of waiting and not knowing before your child came to you?

There is some of that. I think about M a lot (our daughter's other mom), and about how that day is more between her and School Girl than for the rest of us. This year has been the first birthday that M has actually called and talked to School Girl on her own, without prompting, so that made things easier and more difficult at the same time, if that makes any sense. Part of it for years was the...surreality of it all. We weren't told about School Girl as a possible placement for us until 2 weeks after she was born. I almost missed her 1st birthday, if you can believe it - I was so focused on the date that we were placed I had to be reminded when her actual birthday was. School Girl has lots of pictures of her first three days in the hospital, thanks to M and her family. We look at those a couple of times a year now; it used to be more often. She's never asked where K (my husband) and I are in those pictures, but I suppose that will happen someday.

3. Do you think the negative media attention on the subject of adoption has any affect on adoptive parents point of view about birth parents?

Absolutely. Most of the information the media gives out about adoption, as we both know, is based on the most unusual circumstances. In just about every case, a problem was due to somebody in authority screwing up. I would go so far as to say every case. It just reinforces the stereotypes on every side - the big bad entitled adoptive parents who steal babies on one side, and the big bad birthmothers (and yeah, there are birthfathers involved in a few cases, but mostly we hear about birthmothers) who want to steal babies back from their "forever families". Conflict is easier to sell on the 10 o'clock news than normalcy, and I think that drives media coverage of everything. The only time that things are any different are in November, when they have the obligatory National Adoption Month feel-good story. Just once I'd like to see a story about a family that's in between. I'd also like to see more stories about birth parents and how they're dealing with their separation and loss issues. I think that would make a huge difference in how adoptive families look at birth families.

4.What was it that sparked your passion for knitting? How long have you been knitting? And lastly, who taught you how to knit?

I think learning how to spin yarn got me into knitting. For a lot of knitters, I know it's the other way round, but not for me. I've been knitting about the same length of time I've been spinning - just about 16 years now. My mother tried to teach me how to knit when I was School Girl's age; she had already taught me embroidery and was a knitter herself at the time, but I just couldn't get the hang of it. The second time I was self-taught with the aid of "Knitting Without Tears", a couple spindles full of yarn and a pattern for a sweater. Sadly, I ran out of yarn when I got to the sleeves and it wound up being frogged not long after.

5. What is your favorite thing about Colorado? Have you always lived there, or was there something that brought you to the Rockies?

The sun! There aren't quite as many sunny days as there used to be, but I do love the bright clear sunshine. Even when it's well below freezing, it just feels warmer when the sun's out. My husband's job brought us out here a little more than 10 years ago. We love being outside - hiking, camping, and mountain biking - and this is a great place if yu love the outdoors. Plus it's School Girl's home, so that keeps us here as well. I'm originally from the Jersey Shore (about 20 miles north of where "Jersey Shore" was set), but K is an Air Force brat who spent 10 years in the Bay Area and really misses that.
The following question was posed to me by Karen and I was so intrigued by it, I in turn asked for her opinion ...
6. Something that's been on my mind recently: What are your thoughts on federal rules for adoption, including legally enforceable openness agreements and better post-adoption counseling for both adoptive and first parents?
Like I said in the question, this has been on my mind a lot. The adoption rules vary wildly from state to state. Some states allow 90 days between placement and finalization, some states as long as 1 year. For example, here in Colorado, if a child is adopted as an infant the wait for finalization is 6 months; if a child is older than 1 year, finalization doesn't kick in for a year. We could only adopt through an agency; either the county DSS or a private agency. Even the differences in your placement experiences between MO and CA. If there were some uniformity there, it would be better for everyone, I think.
The adoption records issue is a tough one. I do think there are birthparents out there who do not want to be found. At the same time, the people asking for their original birth certificates are adults who deserve to have that information, whether they choose to search for their other family or not. I'd like to see adoption agencies and adoption lawyers step up and accept some responsibility in how individual adoptions are handled. Especially post-adoption counseling. I think you're right; there should be a much more thorough job with post-adoption counseling on all sides, but especially for birth/first parents. I know as adoptive parents, the only services we received were visits from our social worker in preparation for our court date. I understand that M was told by her social worker to "call if she needed anything". I feel like that was absolutely unacceptable, and led to some of her problems early on. Counseling, especially for birth/first parents, should be proactive. When you're feeling fragile is not the time when someone else waits for you to pick up the phone. They're the ones who should call, but all too often don't.

There are many different interviews and I encourage you to click on this link to read more voices involved.  I would like to thank Open Adoption Bloggers for this awesome idea and having me participate in such an interesting endevour! I believe that the more we know about those involved with adoption, the better we can understand each other. Knowledge is power.


Shannan said...

Great interview. I read Evil mommy and will now start reading your blog as well. You sound like an amazing woman! keep it up!

Rebekah said...

I really enjoyed getting to know both of you better. Your perspective is refreshing, thank you for speaking out!

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Thank you both! I am loving the project and I will make sure that I check out your blogs as well. To read others perspectives is a great way to learn more about the emotional hardships, and rewards, of the adoption triad. I think this project will open so many eyes, conversations and views for a great number of people out there!

Thanks for visiting, I sure to appreciate your kind words...

My best to you both!